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Viral and profane pro-Obama ads channel tradition of Jewish humor
Sarah Silverman in her 2008 video "The Great Schlep."
October 1st, 2012
02:24 PM ET

Viral and profane pro-Obama ads channel tradition of Jewish humor

By Dan Merica, CNN

Washington (CNN) – When it comes to reaching voters, the co-founders of a Jewish super PAC aimed at re-electing President Barack Obama have this tip for you: Use humor, even if it isn’t kosher.

Two campaign videos produced by the Jewish Council for Education and Research – one featuring actor Samuel L. Jackson, the other comedian Sarah Silverman – have received a flood of attention over the past few weeks. A foul-mouthed Silverman pushes people to do whatever it takes to make it to the polls in spite of voter ID laws, while an uncensored Jackson orders disenchanted Obama supporters to “wake the f*** up” and get to work.

While Silverman warns viewers about being kept out of the polls, introducing herself as “your Jewish friend Sarah," Jackson, who voiced the recent bedtime story for parents “Go the F**k to Sleep,” rhymes his warning to voters, in a video that's been seen over a million times on YouTube.

“We're all on our way if Romney has his way; he's against safety nets. If you fall, tough luck; so I strongly suggest that you wake the f*** up.”

The unique approach is rooted in a “tradition of Jewish humor,” said Mik Moore, co-founder of the super PAC, which has raised over $200,000 so far this election cycle and has dedicated itself to advancing issues that Jewish voters are concerned about. He added that these ads were “trying to tap into” that tradition.

Moore, a political and communications campaign strategist, launched the group in 2008 with Ari Wallach, a consultant and social entrepreneur. It was in response to what they saw as a distortion of then-candidate Obama’s character and record, particularly on issues that were important to Jewish voters.

The group’s signature has been its comedic productions. In 2008, Silverman got on board, becoming the face and attitude behind “The Great Schlep,” a viral video aimed at getting Jewish grandchildren to travel to Florida, visit their grandparents and persuade them to vote for Obama.

In the video, Silverman jokes about the large concentration of older Jews in Florida, playing up the stereotypes associated with Jewish grandparents living there, a love for tracksuits being just one of them.

“If you knew that visiting your grandparents could change the world, would you do it?” asks Silverman, who writes her own videos. “Of course you would. You’d have to be a douchenozzle not to.”

Moore and Wallach know Silverman’s humor is, in many ways, self-deprecating to Jews. But according to the duo, that is a staple of Jewish humor.

“This is the humor that we were raised on; it resonates with us,” Wallach said. “Jewish humor is inherently never mean or vindictive or about making fun of anyone. It is about the kind of absurdity that is life.”

Jewish humor traces its roots to some of the religion’s founding documents.

In an essay on biblical humor, Hershey H. Friedman, a professor of marketing at the City University of New York, outlines this deep-rooted tradition.

“The Hebrew Bible employs many sorts of humor, but its purpose is not to entertain,” writes Friedman. “Much of the humor found in the Hebrew Bible has a purpose: To demonstrate that evil is wrong and even ludicrous, at times. The punishments meted out to wrongdoers are often designed to mock them and to hoist them by their own petards.”

In the Book of Proverbs, for example, fools, lazy people and senseless women are all openly made fun of.

“Like snow in the summer and like rain at harvest, so is honor unbefitting for a fool,” reads Proverbs 26:3. “It is better to live on a corner of a roof than in a house of companionship with a quarrelsome wife,” Proverbs 25:24 says.

Jewish humor has changed a great deal from the time of Moses, but the principles of being self-deprecating and absurd remain. Moore says the thing that separates Jewish comedy is the way such comedians play up their identities.

“Some Jewish performers hide their Jewishness to fit in,” Moore said. “Jewish comics do the opposite. It is the nature of their comedy. You accept whatever it is you are.”

And that’s what made Silverman a perfect partner in this super PAC venture.

Her language may not be kosher for all, but Wallach says the decision to stick with Silverman and work with Jackson was a calculated one. The group isn't not making these ads for children or seniors but rather for the millions who have made its videos viral.

Going forward, Moore says, the group plans to build websites around issues it views as important, possibly venture into print advertising and, of course, roll out more videos. Already, he says, it has about half a dozen more in mind.

- Dan Merica

Filed under: 2012 Election • Barack Obama • Florida • Judaism • Mitt Romney • Politics

soundoff (1,039 Responses)
  1. Only Response

    Trashy person supporting Obama?? I'm not surprised, that is the Democratic platform – NO morals!

    October 2, 2012 at 5:59 pm |
    • Huh?

      "that is the Democratic platform – NO morals"

      That's why a Republican lied about why we got into a war, now that is no morals.

      October 2, 2012 at 6:00 pm |
    • Seriously?

      "that is the Democratic platform – NO morals!"

      That's why it was the Republicans contributed to driving the economy into the ground with all their greed. – That's NO morals!

      October 2, 2012 at 6:03 pm |
    • thecollegeadmissionsguru

      I LOVE the no moral argument from the RIGHT. HINT, which side wants to help the poor, improve education, feed the masses, heal the sick (Obamacare) and all that really progressive stuff??? Answer: The Democratic Party...

      Who hates the 47%? Who wants to give MORE to the rich by taking from the POOR? Who wants to cut medicaid, medicare, and EVERY other social program to help the less fortunate or the elderly.. HINT: The Party of the questionable Christian Right.. Talk about a quandry of one's faith...

      Be "Jesus" like (Democrats) or more Anti-Christ like (Republicans)

      October 2, 2012 at 11:55 pm |
  2. notasdumasu

    And this is why I don't listen to Hollywood's political opinions. Two of tinsletown's worst actors who won't talk about issues but will back a guy because he is a democrat and nothing more. Btw, screw the safety nets. Sometimes you need to hit the ground hard in order to learn. It's not the job of the gov't to keep me from running into bad suituations or to help me when I do.

    October 2, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
    • What

      You are a bright light in a dark and lonely world, my friend.

      October 2, 2012 at 5:38 pm |
  3. Mike M

    Why do the Jews wanna Re-elect this clown...He's about to throw the Jews under the bus. Isn't he? Who gives a fu-k what Sarah Silverman or any other pathetic musician or actor has to say? They are wealthy and living the high life. They don't have to necessarily worry about how they are gonna pay their bills or afford to eat. It doesn't matter to them that Obama is actually Fuc-ing up this country...Samuel L. Jackson is backing Obama for one reason only. IT"S BECAUSE HE IS FUC-ING BLACK...WAKE UP PEOPLE!!!

    October 2, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      Evidence? Oh wait, that was just talking points given to you by people like Limbaugh? Why am I not surprised.

      October 2, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
    • What

      @hawaiiguest Stop pretending like you don't spend all your time watching MSNBC. Liberals brainwash themselves just as much as conservatives and it's stupid and pointless to pretend otherwise.

      October 2, 2012 at 5:40 pm |
    • old ben

      Wow – sounds like you need a job at Fox News. Oh wait they already have too many clowns just a little bit more clever than you. Of course that's not saying much – really the bottom of the barrel actually.

      October 2, 2012 at 5:41 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      I don't watch MSNBC at all. But it seems you've already made up your mind about me (btw Independent not a Democrat). Congratulations for showing just how much you care about accuracy.

      October 2, 2012 at 5:42 pm |
    • sweetmspea

      No, it's just that he is a better candidate!

      October 2, 2012 at 5:45 pm |
    • What

      Well you assumed Mike M watches Rush Limbaugh so...don't really know where you're trying to go with that. And you're probably about as independent as Bill O'Reilly.
      And old ben the fact that you actually believe that you're not being brainwashed by the predominantly left-wing media is sad and makes me feel very sorry for you.

      October 2, 2012 at 5:47 pm |
    • Me

      Exactly.

      October 2, 2012 at 6:04 pm |
    • old ben

      I feel sorry for you – "What". Everyone knows Fox News is garbage.

      October 2, 2012 at 6:11 pm |
    • old ben

      Regardless of one's religious or non-religious views, a news network cannot be considered serious when pull this kind of stunt: they invited someone on to interview, and when the interviewer didn't quite like where the answer was going, they abruptly ended the interview, literally yelling at the person they kicked off. Of course this pales in comparison to the amount of slant Fox News puts on news every single day.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FK7XHEm7BE8

      October 2, 2012 at 6:16 pm |
    • MeJew

      Of course Jews will vote for that clown. He's funny with those fluffy ears, LOL. He can't be that funny because he looks scary. His face is meant for horror movies. Hahaha. Samuel so envious of the clown because he wished he have a white mom, too.

      October 2, 2012 at 6:23 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @What

      Hmm, I could've sworn I said "people like Limbaugh. Was that too subtle for you? And you know nothing about me, so I'm pretty sure I know how independent I am more than you would.

      October 2, 2012 at 6:57 pm |
    • thecollegeadmissionsguru

      I know Dan Barker quite well, with the FREEDOM FROM RELIGION FOUNDATION.. people should check him out at ffrf.org

      October 2, 2012 at 11:58 pm |
  4. Ralph

    I do not feel any compassion for Jews....Many millions of them are just living on the government expenses....There is nothing biblical on their survival. Even when bible says they were God chosen for Jesus to be born in...they never accepted Jesus as the King....

    October 2, 2012 at 5:18 pm |
    • better than jesus

      Yeah, but Ralph, why settle for jeezbub when you can have a real king???

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AVkoQHCXSK8

      October 2, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
    • Tugboat Annie

      You're a scary guy, Ralph.

      October 2, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
    • G D

      And many bigoted and ignorant people can spout trash as if it were fact to justify their bigotry.

      October 2, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
    • Coyote18

      Do you spell your name "Ralph" or "Adolph"?

      October 2, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
  5. TrollsTrollsEverywhere

    This place is overrun by neocon trolls. Ironic you guys have nothing better to do then troll here. Yet ....

    You call us lazy liberals.

    FYI sending this on a break from my job. Get a life guys / gals.

    October 2, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
    • dinkusmcgee

      WDF (what da fu kke) are u doing writing here wasting ur time fer boy???

      October 2, 2012 at 5:16 pm |
  6. dinkusmcgee

    A vote for Obama by a Jew can be compared to a jew voting for Hitler! Stupid Jews abound just as smart ones do, but less of them are smart today than in the past. Today the average American chew is a moron! Most Jews aren't Kosher anymore! Tell ya do truth, I don't know what da fu kke they are! They are ignorant to be plugging for Oboza though...I know that much! That beotch Michelle Oboza threw Rahm Emmanuel, the little chew, right out of the Whitehouse!

    October 2, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
    • patiat

      Just who the hell do you think you are coming with that idiotic Hitler reference? Is repeating hackneyed, dumb expressions the only thing you know how to do?

      October 2, 2012 at 5:16 pm |
    • dinkusmcgee

      @patiat...what r u? Some kind of dumb Jew or something? Bite my AZZZZZ!

      October 2, 2012 at 5:18 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      I call poe on dinkusmcgee.

      October 2, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
    • G D

      WHAT??? How in any way does Obama compare to Hitler? He was freely elected, isn't trying to exterminate anyone or carry out the grand unifying Arian platform. I'm grateful we have freedom of speech, even if we have to hear it from reprobates like you...

      October 2, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
    • MeJew

      Maybe not Hitler. That's too harsh. The guy just wants to have fun. Not so bad being in White House . While most of America is suffering through one the worst economic downturns in U.S. history, the Obamas are living the high life at your expense. During 2011, U.S. taxpayers spent an astounding 1.4 billion dollars on the Obamas. Meanwhile, British taxpayers only spent 57.8 million dollars on the entire royal family. Does anyone else see something wrong with this picture? So where did the 1.4 billion dollars go? That money paid the salaries of their staff members, it paid for their transportation and housing costs, it paid for entertainment and vacations for the Obamas, and $102,000 was even spent on a "dog handler" for the family dog Bo. Got Money?

      October 2, 2012 at 6:33 pm |
  7. 99%

    The 1%ers are a crime againt humanity. Most only inherited from stocks and the hard workers from the previous generations. Stupid people with lots of money is dangerous to our country and world. It's time for the 99% to take it back.

    October 2, 2012 at 5:07 pm |
    • What

      You don't get rich without working for it. It's that simple. Now stop making up excuses for why you don't have money and start working.

      October 2, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @What

      AHAHAHAHAHAHA!!! Come back to reality man, that other place is not helping you.

      October 2, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
    • What

      The 1% pays 40% of the nation's taxes. I would love to see you try to be a CEO of a company. I give you maybe a week before you tank it almost as badly as Obama is with this economy. There's a reason why qualified people get good jobs and the...other ones such as you are stuck posting bitter comments on CNN about how other people should pay for your inability to be a productive member of society.

      October 2, 2012 at 5:43 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @What

      There you go with assumptions of peoples character. Man you really have no concept of reality.

      October 2, 2012 at 7:00 pm |
    • Mass Debater

      " I would love to see you try to be a CEO of a company. I give you maybe a week before you tank it almost as badly as Obama is with this economy."

      Well I don't know about you, but I'll take turning the co.u.ntry around from ba.nkr.up.t.cy and moving us in the right dir.e.c.tion for 3 st.ra.ight years anyday over thr.ow.ing in the tow.el and chop.ping it up into li.t.tle pie.ces to try and sell for a prof.it as someone who ran Bain would do. I like living in a country, not a fvcking company.

      October 2, 2012 at 7:10 pm |
  8. noel

    Who cares, this lying, Chicago style thug we call a president should be tried for treason and shot!
    NOBAMA!!!

    October 2, 2012 at 5:05 pm |
    • sweetmspea

      Noel, how has he committed treason? Wha Tha?

      October 2, 2012 at 5:52 pm |
  9. Rick McDaniel

    Democrats are especially tasteless and vulgar, from Biden on down.

    October 2, 2012 at 5:05 pm |
  10. dinkusmcgee

    Hey I'm Jewish and say what da fu kke do we need with that ant-semitic Arab as a president. Jews voting for Oboma are idiots!

    October 2, 2012 at 5:03 pm |
    • DFD

      But at least they are able to spell.

      October 2, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
    • dinkusmcgee

      @DFD, I bet u can's spell sh yt with a capital S!!!

      October 2, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
  11. calvin

    next step is to change the bill of right to the bill of freeloaders

    October 2, 2012 at 4:56 pm |
  12. southernwonder

    if you don't let them have it for free – because their god wants it for them – they will price tag you.

    October 2, 2012 at 4:55 pm |
  13. silverblue

    You should be talking about the National Defense Authorization Act NDAA, whereby an american citizen can be put in jail indefinitely without charge nor process!

    October 2, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
  14. Hugh Jass

    What a sad little monkey that guy who keeps squawking about "Obamaphones and govt cheese and Mexicans" must be. Talking to himself with three accounts, and all of them sock puppets. He is a good indicator of where Mitt's supporters are right now, namely hiding their faces while they throw garbage from a dark alley. Sorry, Goat Cheese or Iguanaphone or whatever, but your candidate is just too green and inexperienced as well as too rich and evil.

    October 2, 2012 at 4:47 pm |
    • Silly1

      Yeah those billionaire dems are much better than the billionaire repubs...lol. We have a choice between an extra smelly turd and an extra slimy one. Yippeee

      October 2, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
    • Switch Party

      After 4 years of this, I am changing my vote to rep and voting Romney. I voted for Obama before and admit now, I made a huge mistake!

      October 2, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
    • What

      Romney is inexperienced?! Where have you been? Obummer has been wrecking this economy for 4 years now, don't you think it's time for someone who actually knows how it works to fix this mess? Oh, wait, you probably don't. Liberals don't like logic.

      October 2, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
  15. tamara

    I am jewish and I strongly disagree with this article. Sarah Silverman should not be held up as a representative of the jewish people. This is wrong and she is wrong. This time I will be voting republican.

    October 2, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
    • Hugh Jass

      "This time I will be voting republican." Same as every other time, and you are about as Jewish as Mitt Romney.

      October 2, 2012 at 4:48 pm |
  16. Reality

    ONLY FOR THE NEW MEMBERS OF THIS BLOG:-–>>>>>

    Why this election is far from humorous:

    Romney is Mormon because he was born Mormon. Should we hold this against him? Actually in the 21st century we should since he has this severe affliction, the Three B Syndrome i.e. Bred, Born and Brainwashed in Mormonism with no obvious change in his mental state which he could easily cure with some rational thinking.

    Obama also suffers from the same affliction as he believes in "pretty/ugly wingie thingies, bodily resurrections, atonement mumbo jumbo, et al. And there has been no change or desire to cure his version of the Three B Syndrome.

    We should be voting for leaders who can think rationally. Believing in angels, satans, bodily resurrections, atonement, and heavens of all kinds is irrational.

    Bottom line: BO and MR have been severely brainwashed in their theologically and historically flawed Christianity and they are too weak to escape its felonious grip. And we will be stuck with one of them for another four years of "god bless America" HOPING THAT THIS GOD IS ABLE TO ELIMINATE OUR $16 TRILLION DEBT.

    And the irony is that a good start in reducing this $16 trillion debt is to voluntarily eliminate religion i.e. god in our lives with the added incentive of saving 3.5 billion "souls":

    Saving 1.5 billion lost Muslims:
    There never were and never will be any angels i.e. no Gabriel, no Islam and therefore no more koranic-driven acts of horror and terror like 9/11 and the 24/7 acts of Islamic-sponsored insanity.

    – One trillion dollars over the next several years as the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan will end.

    – Eighteen billion dollars/yr to Pakistan will stop.

    – Four billion dollars/yr to Egypt will end.

    Saving 2 billion lost Christians including the Mormons:
    There were never any bodily resurrections and there will never be any bodily resurrections i.e. No Easter, no Christianity!!!

    – The Mormon ti-the empire will now become taxable as will all Christian "religions" and evangelical non-profits since there is no longer any claim to being a tax-exempt religion.

    – the faith-based federal projects supported by both Bush and Obama will be eliminated saving $385 million/yr and another $2 billion/yr in grants.

    – Saving 15.5 million Orthodox followers of Judaism:
    Abraham and Moses never existed.

    – Four billion dollars/yr to Israel saved.

    – All Jewish sects and non-profits will no longer be tax exempt.

    Now all we need to do is convince these 3.5+ billion global and local citizens that they have been conned all these centuries Time for a YouTube,Twitter and FaceBook campaign!!!!
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    October 2, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
    • Silly1

      Silly puppy

      October 2, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
    • Hater

      Hater's gonna hate. And this guy is full of it. Go get laid or do something productive with your life.

      October 2, 2012 at 5:07 pm |
    • Reality

      AND THE INFAMOUS ANGELIC CONS CONTINUE TO WREAK STUPIDITY UPON THE WORLD->>>

      Joe Smith had his Moroni. (As does M. Romney)

      "Latter-day Saints like M. Romney also believe that Michael the Archangel was Adam (the first man) when he was mortal, and Gabriel lived on the earth as Noah."

      Jehovah Witnesses have their Jesus /Michael the archangel, the first angelic being created by God;

      Mohammed had his Gabriel (this "tin-kerbell" got around).

      Jesus and his family had/has Michael, Gabriel, and Satan, the latter being a modern day demon of the demented. (As does BO and his family)(As does Biden and Ryan)

      The Abraham-Moses myths had their Angel of Death and other "no-namers" to do their dirty work or other assorted duties.

      Contemporary biblical and religious scholars have relegated these "pretty wingie/horn-blowing thingies" to the myth pile. We should do the same to include deleting all references to them in our religious operating manuals. Doing this will eliminate the prophet/profit/prophecy status of these founders and put them where they belong as simple humans just like the rest of us.

      Some added references to "tink-erbells".

      newadvent.org/cathen/07049c.htm

      "The belief in guardian angels can be traced throughout all antiquity; pagans, like Menander and Plutarch (cf. Euseb., "Praep. Evang.", xii), and Neo-Platonists, like Plotinus, held it. It was also the belief of the Babylonians and As-syrians, as their monuments testify, for a figure of a guardian angel now in the British Museum once decorated an As-syrian palace, and might well serve for a modern representation; while Nabopolassar, father of Nebuchadnezzar the Great, says: "He (Marduk) sent a tutelary deity (cherub) of grace to go at my side; in everything that I did, he made my work to succeed."
      Catholic monks and Dark Age theologians also did their share of hallu-cinating:

      "TUBUAS-A member of the group of angels who were removed from the ranks of officially recognized celestial hierarchy in 745 by a council in Rome under Pope Zachary. He was joined by Uriel, Adimus, Sabaoth, Simiel, and Raguel."

      And tin-ker- bells go way, way back:

      "In Zoroastrianism there are different angel like creatures. For example each person has a guardian angel called Fravashi. They patronize human being and other creatures and also manifest god’s energy. Also, the Amesha Spentas have often been regarded as angels, but they don't convey messages, but are rather emanations of Ahura Mazda ("Wise Lord", God); they appear in an abstract fashion in the religious thought of Zarathustra and then later (during the Achaemenid period of Zoroastrianism) became personalized, associated with an aspect of the divine creation (fire, plants, water...)."

      "The beginnings of the biblical belief in angels must be sought in very early folklore. The gods of the Hitti-tes and Canaanites had their supernatural messengers, and parallels to the Old Testament stories of angels are found in Near Eastern literature. "

      "The 'Magic Papyri' contain many spells to secure just such help and protection of angels. From magic traditions arose the concept of the guardian angel. "

      For added information see the review at:

      en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Angel

      October 2, 2012 at 11:38 pm |
  17. b overby

    especially from supposed celebrities, no class is still....no class....

    October 2, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
  18. OrganicManLives_N_anOraganicUNiverSE

    ░░░░░►☼INCOMING TRANSMISSION:☼ ░░░░░► from Planet KOLOB ░░░░░► R☼Ø☼b☼u☼l☼α☼© ░░░░░► will not be sending his greetings to the  ░░░░░► 47% of Humans░░░░░►that he intends to lay waste to ░░░░░►He will instead ░░░░░► focus on creating slave labor jobs ░░░░░► for the 52% ░░░░░► who will attend to the needs of the 1% ░░░░░►☼END OF TRANSMISSION☼░░░░░►

    October 2, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
    • What

      This is too stupid to be anything but trolling.

      October 2, 2012 at 5:36 pm |
  19. jose garcia

    Me like Obama bcuz I stay in US of A free and not worry about deport now. Me and me 12 kids get support from Obama and US of A tax payer and we no worry bout a thing, Vote Obama!!

    October 2, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
    • Obamacare

      Obamacare will take care of you and your 12 kids soon too!

      October 2, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
  20. obamaphone

    Vote Obama so I can keep my free obamaphone! Obama makes it easy for us not to have to work and get the free cheese!

    October 2, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
    • swagger

      Obama does have that swagger!

      October 2, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
    • Gov't Cheese

      No udder prez in hiztory has put more cheese in my poket than Obama, no way imma go get a job at taco bell or something when I getz my free gov't cheese! VOTE OBAMA!

      October 2, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.